About Behind The Screens

Back in 2017, I started a YouTube channel based upon my Tumblr Movie Code. Movie Code shows real source code appearing in films and television and the YouTube channel went deeper into some of that source code to show how it works and where it came from.

I removed my channel from YouTube in 2022 and uploaded all the videos here.

Fixing a bug in "Airwolf" code from 1984

Back in 1984 the Apple ][ was an exciting computer. So exciting that it played a key role in the Airwolf episode "Moffett's Ghost". Unfortunately, the code, like Airwolf itself, is buggy. Luckily we can fix the bug... 30 years on.

LinApple Apple ][ emulator / Source code used in Airwolf / Tumblr entry.

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The Silicon Valley S03E01 Easter Egg code explained

Episode 1 of Season 3 of HBO's Silicon Valley contained a cool Easter Egg that was supposedly the Pied Piper compression library. This episode explains the Easter Egg and how it works.

Tumblr entry / Reddit discussion / The code.

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The code Dennis Nedry used to shut down Jurassic Park's security system

In Jurassic Park, Dennis Nedry writes some code to cover his tracks. We see a glimpse of his code before it disappears from his screen when he sets his plan in action. But what was it? In this video, I track the code down.

Tumblr entries: 1, 2 / Basilisk II / Previous blogs on this code: 1, 2 / Reddit discussion / Dan Allen.

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The origin of all The Terminator's source code revealed

James Cameron's classic 1984 film The Terminator contained glimpses of code for the Apple ][. In this episode the real origin of that code and what it really does is revealed for the first time.

Tumblr entry / Mentions of the code being from Nibble Magazine: 1, 2.

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Westworld: the first film with CGI (and its source code)

The 1973 film Westworld was the first film to feature computer graphics. These were used to show how the robots saw the world. But Westworld also had something else... computer code. And it's computer code with a surprising source.

Tumblr entries: 1, 2 and 3 / FR-80 documentation / FR-80 Systems Software documentation / PDP-15 assembly manual / “Creating the Special Effects for ‘Westworld’”. American Cinematographer, November 1973: here.

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Unmasking the authors of KITT's code

In this video I run some code that appears in one episode of Knight Rider and produces an effect in a different episode and I dig into the code to reveal who wrote it.

Spotted by: 1, 2, and 3 / Tumblr entry / Universal Studios Computer Graphics / The code.

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The hidden meaning of "Blue Book" in Ex Machina

Blue Book isn't just the name of Nathan Bateman's company, it's also a double Easter Egg in Ex Machina. The hidden meaning is locked inside a program shown briefly on screen. In this video I'll show the true meaning of Blue Book and how it's clever Easter Egg by the director.

Reddit discussion / Tumblr entry / The book / Android code / Interview with the director.

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My descent into 8-bit insanity running code from Deutschland 83

In the TV series Deutschland 83 some IBM BASIC code was shown. In this episode I run it and then try to determine precisely which version of IBM BASIC from the early 1980s was used. I do that by looking at the output of the random number generator.

Tumblr entry / Source code / PCjs.

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Is Swordfish the worst hacking movie ever? Not quite!

Just how bad was Swordfish? Not as bad a you might think, at least when it comes to source code that's relevant to the plot. This video takes a look at about the only thing that makes sense in this 2001 hacking caper.

Tumblr entry / Credits: 1 and 2 / DES / DES cracking: 1 and 2 / EFF DES Cracker / Image of EFF DES Cracker / Cracking book.

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What is the Iron Man suit made of? Could it be Lego?

The original Iron Man suit made in a cave in Afghanistan needed some code to make it run. But where did that code come from?

Original Code: here / RCX Tools: here / Oliver Jones' blog / Lego Mindstorms image.

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The NASA code hidden in The Martian and an unsolved mystery (Improved Audio)

The 2015 film "The Martian" contains lots of real NASA code and some code that hasn't been understood... yet. Perhaps with your help we can understand what Mark Watney was really looking at.

PVSLib / NASA Langley Formal Methods / NASA's page on The Martian.

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The Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation "data transfer" code explained

While Simon Pegg is stealing a list of Syndicate agents from a data center in Morocco we see some 'data transfer' code on screen. But what is it really? Could it be code for convective heat flow and to draw a mathematical equation? Yes! So, let's run it.

Tumblr entry / Processing / The Processing code.

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A source code mystery in the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer

The third trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming contains a flash of source code and it's source code that appeared two years ago in an unrelated TV series. Why?

Discussion in Swedish about the code that appeared in Extant / Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer 3 / Reddit discussion.

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The real GPS and ArduPilot code in HBO's Westworld S01E05: Contrapasso

The creators of HBO's Westworld have used real code and data in this episode. The GPS data comes from a real orbiting GPS satellite, and the code to control a bird from a real open source auto-pilot project called ArduPilot.

Tumblr entry / NOAA file format / Example code / SVN41 / BDD-IIR / Reddit discussion / The ArduPilot change.

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Resurrecting Apple ][ code from a 1980 B movie

"The Return" starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Cybill Shepherd is not a good movie. But it does have some 1980 code in it. Specifically, it's code for an Apple ][ and with a little work we can get it to run in an emulator.

Tumblr entry / Code snippet / LinApple emulator.

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The five real robots in the teaser for Westworld

In 2014 HBO put out a teaser trailer for Westworld. Only six seconds long the trailer was packed with computer code for five real robots. In this video I take the teaser apart frame by frame to reveal those five robots and what the code does.

The Vine / Image of ABB robot / Testportread.py / Cellbots / MicroCamp2.0 / RobotC / Image of MicroCamp2.0 robot / Image of Lego Mindstorms NXT / Image of FANUC robots.

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The Stargate Replicators used code from a Canadian bank!

In Stargate: The Ark of Truth there are two shots of computer code. One of them is hilarious as it's not only irrelevant to the action but is real computer code from a web site that was probably being surfed by the visual effects crew.

Tumblr entry / Twitter link / Archive of Royal Bank of Canada web site from 2008: here / Ostrosoft Winsock: here and the sample seen on screen.

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Robocop: The Librarian

In the 2014 film Robocop, the part machine, part human's real mission is revealed. He's not a cop, he's a librarian out to get you to return those overdue books. At least that's what his source code reveals!

Tumblr entries: 1 and 2 / The library system: here.

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Secrets of a Doctor Who opening sequence revealed

The opening sequence of the Doctor Who episode "The Bells of Saint John" reveals far more about the visual designer who worked on the special effects than they probably ever realized.

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A virus that's actually real code to control traffic lights

In the 2014 episode "Single Point of Failure" of the CBS series Scorpion, the daughter of the Governor of California is infected with a virus and so is her computer. But the code that flashes by on screen is really for controlling a set of traffic lights.

Links and References: Tweet / Structured Text / PDF containing the code seen on screen.

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This site and all the videos were made by John Graham-Cumming.